Thomas Paine's Corner
Awakened midnight nobody home. Alone against the music of the Angry Young.
Kid outside screamed poems into a mike. Squat amp dragged behind him on a wagon. Surrounding friends clapped stomped cacophonous. Launched his dithyrambs against The City. Cannonades of sing-song bass.
Josh razed Jericho with song.
“Turn off the NOISE and tune in The VOICE of The Nation.”
That ad from somewhere I remember. Subway maybe. Turned on the stereo. Fight noise with noise. Lonely like I’ve never. Unbearable rip. Inside. Alone me in the middle of the night.
Tried to reach The VOICE myself. Dialed, the line was jammed. WSOS after midnight. The VOICE beseeched by the Sleepless of The Nation.
Cassette recorder/radio on my bookshelf. Little block of gizmo purchased student days to record the lectures of Great Men and listen to the music of my day. Provides Flamenco for the run, now. Listen to Flamenco when I run.
Stole fresh batteries from my room-mate, raised the volume.
The VOICE said to the Sleepless of The Nation: “Voices that command, command. I overwhelm you with my immanence if I’m not real who is? My words redeem you, you can’t penetrate my words I pump them into you like bullets you don’t hear them high frequency like dog whistles raise primordial spooks to haunt your creepy skulls do what I dream you to do, and THEN you will be loved. You harden in pockets of darkness like old gum, oh shadows, you are doubts articulated you are puppets.”
I said to the recorder: “Call me Plantman, the Indoor Horticultural Technician. I nurture gardens in the sky, bring water, fertilizer and impeccable grooming to the City’s indoor flora. The workers anticipate my coming. Cramped in stalls and cubicles at nose-pinching altitudes, hunched over keyboards, the workers turn from radioactive memoranda to witness photosynthesis.”
A caller identified himself as Brown, author of Wild Card. The VOICE commanded him to speak.
Brown said: “My book is a mirror in which each reader sees his own story therefore each reader is writing while reading. I worked on it seven years.”
The VOICE said: “Yeah, so?”
Brown said: “So I awoke one morning and found myself STILL unknown… writers trying to repossess lost time… type in darkness, thousands of them, tippety-tap-tap-tap… trying to define The Nation, it is beyond them, they are alone and frightened…”